East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) recently received funding from the Arm Community Fund to support the ongoing Help at Home initiative in Cambridgeshire. The service matches local volunteers to families caring for a life-threatened child, to provide support with household tasks.

Caring for a life-threatened child can be time-consuming and exhausting, as parents/carers deal with their child’s complex medical needs 24 hours a day. Many families find it simply impossible to keep on top of household tasks as well as providing all the care that their child needs. During the grant period (April 2021 to March 2022), EACH’s Help at Home service has provided 11 of these families with practical support, helping them to complete essential tasks like cleaning, cooking, shopping and gardening.

This has helped families to live more comfortably and improved their wellbeing, as they know that important tasks have been dealt with and their home is in a cleaner and/or more organised state. The support has also enabled families to have one less thing to worry about, meaning that they can dedicate more time to their child’s care, or to spending quality time together as a family. Time is, of course, extremely precious and limited for the families of life-threatened children, so support with time-consuming tasks can be very beneficial.

Although Help at Home is a practical service, many families have also reported that having a volunteer come to their home to help with household tasks has provided them with an important social opportunity. Parents and carers of life-threatened children can often find themselves isolated as result of their child’s conditions. They often do not have a lot of spare time to socialise, and unfortunately many find that their friends and family distance themselves because they are uncomfortable with or unsure how to respond to the child’s condition. Help at Home volunteers have been able to reduce the isolation and improve the social and emotional wellbeing of these families, often simply by having an informal chat as they complete their work, or over a cup of tea.

One family member commented:

“I just wanted to say thank you. It became more than providing a cooked meal after a few weeks. I looked forward to Wednesday as I know there will be someone to talk to. I knew for that hour I could be myself and not just a Mum. With someone to talk to and that would listen to me and not judge me. Someone that could be completely honest with. For me I think that was a big part of the service as it helped the isolation that I feel sometimes.”

Volunteers have also benefitted from the opportunity to socialise with new people and provide support directly to families in need within their local community. The Help at Home initiative has also enabled some volunteers to improve their confidence, self-esteem and sense of community.

The funding provided by the Arm Community Fund has helped EACH to continue the provision of their Help at Home service in Cambridgeshire. EACH commented:

“EACH is very grateful to Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and Arm Community Fund for their grant towards our Help at Home service. Help at Home provides practical household support to families with life-threatened children, giving them time to focus on what is most important – spending time together.”

If you have a similar project that could benefit from funding, view our Arm Community Fund, which offers grants of up to £3000 with the following funding priorities: Community Development and Engagement; Children, Young People and Families and Adults Facing Life Crisis. The next application deadline is 1 November.